Saturday, March 5, 2011

Georgia's Augusta Canal Trail

The Augusta Canal is a historic canal located in Augusta, Georgia. The canal connects two points of the Savannah River and was constructed 1) to harness the power of the fall line of the Savannah River for mills, 2) to provide transportation of goods around the un-naviagable river segment, 3) and to provide drinking water for the city. It is the only canal in the world still used for its original purpose of providing power to textile mills.

The trail runs 7.5 miles from Augusta to Savannah Rapids Park where you can see the locks and dam at the start of the canal seen here...

The trail is the old tow path used by the mules that pulled the boats up the canal. The rail here is packed earth on a raised berm or levee with the canal is on the right and the Savannah River on the left in this photo.    The shoals, rocks, and waterfalls prevented boats from using this section of the river, necessitating the construction of the canal back in 1845, and the canal is the only unblocked and accessible industrial canal in the South.

The scenery was beginning its spring show as I biked and I can only imagine the full display as the month progresses...

Unfortunately, finding the trailhead parking areas is a problem. The driving directions in the Rails-to-Trails book (and on their website) ae useless because the street you are to take is closed due to razing of an old textile property, and when I followed the signage from I-20, the final sign is missing and I spent the better part of an hour searching.

Briefly, from westbound I-20, exit at mile 199, turn right on Stevens Creek Rd. and right again onto Evans to Locks Road which dead-ends at the trailhead.

Augusta Canal website

Wikipedia article

Augusta Canal National Heritage Area website National Park Service)

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